By NewsPress Staff
STILLWATER, Okla. —
St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Stillwater pealed its bells in celebration of the selection of a new pope Wednesday, joining churches around the globe in honoring Pope Francis.
Stillwater church officials expressed their joy at the selection and hope for the future of the church.
Cardinals in Rome chose Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina Wednesday. He is the first pontiff outside of Europe in centuries and the first from the Americas. He has named himself Francis after the 13th-century Italian preacher who chose a humble life of poverty.
“I think it’s kind of unexpected in terms of who was elected because it was not a European and that has not happened in 1000 years in my recollection,” said Richard Berberet, a deacon at St. Francis in Stillwater.
Stillwater has a vibrant, active community of Hispanic Catholics, Berberet said. Father Ken Harder at St. Francis said he expects Pope Francis to give a new perspective to the papacy with his Hispanic background.
St. Francis Xavier holds Spanish language masses every weekend that are well attended.
“We hope the election of a Latin American and one of Spanish descent will be a real sign of encouragement to Hispanic people,” Berberet said.
Harder said he believes many Hispanic Catholics will now feel a deep sense of pride in Pope Francis.
Berberet said the Tulsa diocese will celebrate the new pope as will area Catholics. Harder said he is working with Hispanic community members to organize a special Spanish celebratory mass.
He said during Thursday’s mass they will begin praying for the new pope. Harder said whatever the pope’s background they each have a continuity of the Catholic faith.
“The pope is the symbol of our unity throughout the world,” Harder said.